Save the Lakes is on a mission not to purchase the closed Ahwatukee Lakes Golf Course, but to better understand if it can be brought back to life and to encourage homeowners to keep it protected.
Volunteers with the nonprofit are going door to door around the neighborhood distributing information, collecting signatures, and letting homeowners know it’s up to them to keep the course a golf course.
“We’re continuing to carry on the effort,” said Ben Holt, president of Save the Lakes. “We are not giving up, but we are also not buying a golf course. We are going to carry this thing to a conclusion. Who knows what will happen in the end, but we are not giving up on it.”
Pulte Homes has signed a memorandum of understanding to purchase the course from current owner, Wilson Gee, who closed it in May of last year. Their plans call for building 300 homes at the site. The company is still doing due diligence on the site and hopes to have an update out to the community in May.
Anyone who plans to develop the land would need to get approval of at least 51 percent of the nearly 5,100 homeowners within the Ahwatukee Board of Management Homeowners Association (ABM).
While that goal may be difficult enough to reach without their help, Save the Lakes is working to make sure it doesn’t happen. They’ve started a petition. The goal is to get 51 percent of homeowners to sign their petition to “stop the changing or amending of the declaration which states that The Lakes Golf Course property shall be used for no purpose other than a Golf Course.”
The group already has more than 1,200 signatures on its petition.
“If it comes down to it and goes to court, it might help to win our battle,” said Deb Krakosky, a volunteer who has been collecting signatures.
The petition can be found on the Save the Lakes website, savethelakes.weebly.com. The group is asking all homeowners within ABM to sign the petition and mail it back to Save The Lakes, Inc., Post Office Box 50113, Phoenix, AZ 85076-0113. Only homeowners can sign the petition.
“We’re in the process of delivering information to those households to tell them the reasons why they should not approve putting the CC&Rs aside,” Holt said. “Once those are set aside there’s not really any real protection on that property other than zoning. The CC&Rs are our main protection. We just want people to understand that it’s important that they not waive that protection.”
In the mean time the group is also collecting donations to have a feasibility study done on the course by an expert in the Arizona golf industry.
“We want him to look at the Lakes course and give us the scoop on whether or not that course can be brought back to a profitable business operation,” Holt said. “We think it can, but none of us are experts.”
Holt says the study would be useful ammunition if the homeowners have to take the case to court. It also might convince some homeowners to hold their ground on ensuring the course remains a golf course.
Beyond donations the group needs information for the feasibility study. They’re collecting photos of what the course looked like before it was purchased by Ahwatukee Golf Properties, information on its popularity at its peak and information about different tournaments or events at the golf course in the past. The information must be collected by April 12. For more information on the study or where to send information or the petition, visit savethelakes.weebly.com.
As Save the Lakes continues its preparations City Councilman Sal DiCiccio is fighting to keep other golf courses from falling into the same situation. A subcommittee approved his plan to change the city’s zoning ordinance related to the maintenance of golf courses. His ideas are being sent to all the city village planning committees for approval and a final discussion will be scheduled in May.
The changes include: prohibiting barbed-wire fencing; identifying a one-year time limit for all temporary fencing; establishing a use permit requirement for temporary fencing of a golf course when next to residential areas; requiring that temporary fencing be set back a minimum of 50 feet from the perimeter of the golf course; and mandating that landscaping within the 50-foot setback be maintained, among other items.
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